New employment laws and statutory rates – what they mean for you

March 23, 2021

Employment laws are forever changing and with so much to keep on top of, it is hard to keep up. We’ve highlighted recent changes you need to be aware of as an employer…

1.  Immigration rules

Brexit marked the end of freedom of movement, employees from the EU must now apply for advance permission to work in the UK and they must meet certain requirements.

The new points-based Skilled Worker Visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa and employers must now apply for a sponsor licence to take on candidates from the EU. Before applying for this license, employers must make sure candidates meet the 70-point requirement of the new points-based system.

2. Changes to modern slavery statements

There are plans in the pipeline to clamp down on modern slavery. The Government want more companies to produce modern slavery statements and your business may need one if it doesn’t have one already. It is also worth noting that public sector companies, as well as private, will have to create a statement if they turn over more than £36 million.

In the Government’s new guidelines, it has been proposed that modern slavey statements will need to cover:

• Slavery and human trafficking policy

• Business structure and supply chain

• How business policies are implemented

• Steps taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in your business and areas where it may be a risk

• How effectiveness of policies is measured

• How staff are educated on slavery and human trafficking

These changes are due to be implemented this year, so make sure you are up to date. Soon you will be required to upload your company’s statement onto a new government-run reporting tool so that customers can compare anti-slavery policies online to make fully informed decisions.

3. Furlough scheme ending

The furlough scheme has recently been extended to September, but although there is still 6 months to go, the plan is changing.

From July, employers are expected to contribute 10% towards furloughed worker’s wages, rising to 20% in August and September.

It is worth considering now what happens after the furlough scheme ends. In particular, if you will be able to afford to keep your staff without the furlough support and if not, whether there are possible alternatives to redundancies. You could perhaps consider:

• Voluntary redundancies

• Flexible working options

• Reduced working hours

• Temporary layoffs

• Job Share

4. Employing contractors

If you take on contractors and work for a medium to large company, you need to keep up to date with changes coming in April. COVID-19 delayed changes to IR35 last year but they are due to go ahead in April.

Put simply, IR35 rules are there to cover any workers who aren’t on payroll. Self-employed contractors enjoy tax benefits and IR35 rules are there to crack down on anyone taking advantage.

After the IR35 update, it will no longer fall to contracted workers themselves to declare their own self-employed status to HMRC, it is down to the employer. This means that if HMRC disagrees with the employment status of staff, the employer faces the penalties, instead of the employee.

Small businesses need not worry about this update. Rules only apply if a business has at least two of the following:

• Above £10.2 million turnover

• 50+ employees

• A balance sheet of over £5.1 million

The IR35 changes only apply to medium or large-sized private sector companies. So small businesses the contractor is still responsible.

5. Increased redundancy protection for employees who are pregnant

If your business needs to make redundancies, you will need to consider whether you can keep staff on by offering them alternative roles. As has always been the case, staff on maternity leave should be the first to be offered these opportunities.

New rules on how long this protection lasts are due to be implemented later this year. We don’t know when these will take effect but when they do, employees will be protected as soon as they announce their pregnancy, up until 6 months after they return to work.

6. Changes to statutory wage rates

The chancellor announced increases to minimum and National Living Wage rates across every age group in his March Budget. Coming into effect 1st April, the National Living Wage will be extended to include those aged 23 and above. These are the new hourly rates:

National Living Wage

£8.72 to £8.91 (2.2% increase)

Age 21-22

£8.20 to £8.36 (2.0% increase)

Age 18 - 20

£6.45 to £6.56 (1.7% increase)

Age 16 - 17

£4.55 to £4.62 (1.5% increase)

Apprentice rate

£4.15 to £4.30 (3.6% increase)

These increases apply to everyone, regardless on the size of your company, so make sure you are prepared for 1st April.

Statutory pay changes are also due to change in April:

• The 4th April – statutory parental pay, including maternity, paternity, adoptions, shared parental and parental bereavement pay, will increase from £151.20 to £151.97 per week.

• The 6th April – Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £95.85 to £96.35 per week.

Need help keeping on top of changes to employment law?

We know it is difficult for business owners to keep up with never ending changes to employment laws.

So, let us do the work for you so you can be certain your business is up to date with all the latest changes. For more information on how we can assist you in all things employment law, get in touch today.

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.